This post was guest authored by Kathy Papadimitropoulos
If there is one thing Greeks like to do is host a house full of people! We enjoy the parea (company), laughter, stories and of course serving up delicious authentic food from our homeland. From feta to bechamel, grape leaves to filo, we LOVE to cook and entertain!
When I was asked several years ago to present the cooking demos at the annual Denver Greek Festival, I was hesitant. After all, this was a step-by-step ‘show’ displaying the steps of Greek cooking in front of an unknown audience, not a gathering of family around the kitchen counter. So I asked myself, “What’s the difference? Let’s do this!” OPA!
I hope you will join me this summer at the Greek Festival located on the grounds of the Assumption Cathedral at 4610 E. Alameda Avenue in Denver. There, we will journey together through my Greek kitchen as I present staples such as spanakopita, tiropita, and souvlaki to name just a few. Who knows? Maybe the Greek gods will allow me to fry up some flaming cheese!
Here’s a sneak peek of one of the delicious recipes you’ll get to watch me make (and taste!):
Fiery Feta and Fig Crostini/Pita Triangles
Yields approx. 20-25 pieces
Calories: NONE! We do not count these. You are GREEK for the day!
- ⅔ cup and 2 tablespoons cut up pieces of dried fig
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme (½ teaspoon if using dried thyme)
- 2 ½ teaspoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- ⅔ cup water
- 2 tablespoons Metaxa brandy, ouzo, or juice of one freshly squeezed orange
- 1 cup crumbled feta
- ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ¼ jalapeno, seeds removed, chopped fine (add more if you like)
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- Pita flatbread (no pockets) or French baguette
- Place the figs, thyme, brown sugar, maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, and water in a bowl. Mix well to coat all pieces. Set aside for an hour.
- Place contents of the bowl in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. When it has started to boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook until there is no more liquid. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- While the fig spread is cooling, prepare the feta by mixing it with a fork and adding ¾ teaspoon olive oil, red pepper flakes, and jalapeno. Be sure to mash it with your fork to create a creamy texture and break up any feta chunks. If more olive oil is needed, add a teaspoon at a time to desired consistency. Set aside.
- Cut your pita into triangles (cut as you would a pie) Place your triangles on a greased cookie sheet (spray with cooking spray) and bake them on the middle rack until golden brown. You can also use a French baguette. Simply cut into diagonal ½ inch wedges, brush each side lightly with olive oil and place on a greased cookie sheet and bake until golden brown. Be careful not to burn the edges.
- To assemble, spread some of your feta mixture over the pita or bread slice. Use the back of a spoon to press down if needed. Lastly, add some of the fig compote on top of the feta. And there you have it! An appetizer that teases your palate with salty, sweet, and fiery flavors.
Demonstrations will be presented all three days and are a short 30-minute session. Our time together in my kitchen will leave you filled with tips, hints, and samples (after all, you can’t come to a Greek home without eating something!) that are sure to get your palates ready for our festival delicacies. All of the recipes I will be presenting are published in our community cookbook, “Festival of Greek Flavors, A Mediterranean Culinary Adventure.” This book is a labor of love with authentic recipes from our mothers and grandmothers and can be purchased at the festival.
See you at the festival! Check out our website, www.thegreekfestival.com for demonstration times under the Entertainment tab.